I woke up to the sounds of the call to prayer at 5am, and immediately checked my phone to see the election updates. Nearly had a heart attack when I saw that Romney was in the lead, but then I realized it’s still early in the US and they hadn’t counted the votes from the blue states yet. Then I snoozed for another hour or so, and when I woke up and checked the news again, the first thing I thought was, “we did good America.” We reelected President Obama for another four years in office, and made @BarackObama the most popular tweet of all time, beating Justin Bieber. We’ve elected the first openly gay senator, and more women to Senate than ever (MA, I’m proud of you). We’ve legalized same-sex marriage and marijuana in two (maybe three!) states; upheld Obamacare in others; and abolished capital punishment in California. This is a great day for America.
When I got to work, the first thing one of the Kurdish teachers said to me was, “Congratulations!!” and another said, “thank you for not messing this one up”. Their reaction really drove home the point that US presidential elections matter for the rest of the world. Anna told me yesterday that a lot of people she knew had been complaining about the dominance of the US elections in world media, and that who the Finnish, or Swedish president is matters just as much as the American president. Or rather, it shouldn’t matter to anyone else except for the citizens of that particular country. Ideally, it shouldn’t matter. America shouldn’t be this gigantic, hegemonic presence in geopolitics and the global media. Except that it is, and it does matter to the rest of the world who the President of the United States is.
It was quite a surreal experience today, sitting in a Kurdish bus (imagine a blinged out matatu) talking about American presidential elections with people who must live with the consequences of American foreign policy decisions. George Bush is universally (and highly problematically) liked in Kurdistan because he got rid of Saddam Hussein. So the Bush administration’s envisioned “savior” reception actually was true in Kurdistan. But his policies also wreaked havoc in Iraq proper. Joe Biden, and by extension Pres. Obama, is also well-liked here because of his knowledge and support of the Kurdish struggle for recognition. I could go on and on about how the choice of presidents in the US matters in the rest of the world, but I’ll stop here and just say that whether we like it or not, the world will be watching when we elect our presidents. And I’m so proud that we’ve reelected President Obama for another four years. Now we can stop with all the electioneering and get back to business.
Favorite Facebook comment of the day:
What is it with Kenyans and winning races?
If you’ve got world problems, I feel bad for you son… I got 99 problems but Mitt ain’t one.
Also, in 2008, Kenya became the first country to declare a national holiday for the election of another country’s president. Wonder if friends and family will be getting another day off to celebrate Obama’s reelection. In any case, I’ve declared today electoral party day in Kurdistan, and will be attempting to create a celebratory atmosphere. I miss America even more today. #Obama2012
P.S. Remember Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and the rest of the motley crew? I kind of miss the entertainment.